‘Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hain’: Gripping Court Drama

Story: Inspired by real-life incidents, this is the story a Sessions Court lawyer in Jodhpur, who fights a five-year-long battle to bring justice to a minor girl sexually assaulted by a powerful godman.

Review: When a revered self-styled godman is in the witness box for the sexual assault of a minor girl, you know the courtroom drama will be more than just a battle of wits. The proceedings will be fierce and furious, and props to director Apoorv Singh Karki for ensuring that the gripping tale keeps you hooked throughout. Tremendous responsibility rests on the writer to effectively pull off a film that largely relies on dialogues (arguments in this case), which Deepak Kingrani aces in, whether inside the courtroom or outside. The one person who holds it all together firmly is Manoj Bajpayee, just like the protagonist he portrays.

The film is a biopic on a humble lawyer from Rajasthan, Advocate PC Solanki, who single-handedly brought justice to the minor girl under the POCSO Act in the much-publicised self-styled godman’s sexual assault case. While lawyers in courtroom dramas are portrayed to be larger-than-life, Advocate PC Solanki (Manoj Bajpayee, ) is a simple man living with his mother and son in Jodhpur. He takes on his contemporary defence attorney (Vipin Sharma) with great confidence, but it’s endearing to see him starstruck and nervous when he faces colossal names from the legal world during the court proceedings.

Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai is a well-researched story where the viewer will be filled with admiration at the due diligence on the public prosecutor Solanki’s part, especially in proving that the survivor Nu (Adrija) is a minor and that the case must be tried under the POCSO Act no matter what, or other legal nitty-gritty.

The movie, where only Advocate Solanki’s name remains unchanged, while other characters are given screen names, handles the narrative with great sensitivity, even in the scenes when the defence asks Nu pointed questions about the incident or how mindfully the police handle the case. It does not sensationalise the event while ensuring it’s gripping. Arjun Kukreti’s cinematography complements the tight direction and writing. The chase scene in the bylanes of Jodhpur when goons attack Solanki is well-shot. Nu is being taken for a medical examination after the police complaint, and when she covers her face up with her dupatta, your heart goes out to her as it conveys the shame is trying to hide. Or the scene when the case is won, and Nu stands by the window—her patly lit-up face seems to depict the hope and the scars together.

Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai boasts of outstanding performances, whether Adrija or Jaihind Kumar and Durga Sharma as Nu’s hapless but supportive parents, Vipin Sharma as the defence lawyer (he acts exceptionally well in the scene he’s grilling Nu and is ashamed to ask her about the crime in detail). But the star here is undoubtedly Manoj Bajpayee. He shows prowess, especially in adapting his mannerisms while interacting with different stakeholders—Nu, her parents, his mother, his son, the judges, the lawyers he admires, and his assistant. From determined to scared, emotional, awestruck and outraged, he aces every nuance. He shines in the scene when he breaks down, his mother consoles him, and they recite a poem together and his closing statement. He knows he’s dealing with a nation obsessed with religion. Instead of explaining why Baba deserves to be punished from a human or legal standpoint, he uses a language they’d understand. He quotes the example of why Lord Shiva refused to forgive his greatest worshipper, Ravan. This was a brilliant touch.

The film must not be missed for the exceptional storytelling, drama, and dialogues but, above all, for Manoj Bajpayee’s extraordinary performance. You will cheer for him and Advocate PC Solanki. — Indian Express